When one of Aspen’s premiere halfpipe skiers Hanna Faulhaber asked another, Alex Ferreira, for a photo, the latter hadn’t yet heard the news.
At the base of the halfpipe in Bakuriani, Georgia, on March 4, Ferreira — who himself took bronze in the men’s competition — asked Faulhaber how she did.
Ferreira, a famously meticulous competitor who focuses on his own run to the extent that he doesn’t watch other competitors, was completely unaware that his 18-year-old friend and occasional training partner had just won gold in the season-finale World Championships.
“It was super funny because he was super focused with his competition,” Faulhaber said. “I asked him if we could get some photos at the bottom of the pipe and we’re just standing there and he’s like, ‘Oh, how’d you do?’ I was like, ‘I won,’ and he was just so excited for me and it was a really wholesome moment to have with him and it was so funny.”
Faulhaber, in the homestretch of a tough season, hit the run she had been envisioning all year in her third run — the final run of the day. As she watched her score of 95.75 come in with just one competitor to go, her jaw dropped and she threw her head backward in disbelief before accepting a hug from Great Britain’s Zoe Atkin, who she displaced from the gold medal position.
She nailed a switch cork 720 with a Japan grab, meaning she completed two full rotations while grabbing the inside of her left ski with her right hand after entering the jump in reverse. It’s a new trick she’s been trying to incorporate all season.
It marked Faulhaber’s first major career win in her young career. A couple weeks later, back in the Roaring Fork Valley and getting in some powder days, the word of choice is still “wow.”
“I’m just still in complete disbelief,” Faulhaber said. “When that score came through I was in complete shock and just super, super happy I finally put down the run I’ve been wanting to put down all season.”
It ended her season on a high note after she said she wasn’t “skiing the way that I really liked.” She took a sixth place at Copper Mountain in December while battling COVID, a third and a fourth in Calgary in January and a fifth at Mammoth Mountain in March. She placed fifth at X Games, as well.
“[I was] just not really skiing that I had the season previous until World Champs and then it all came back with perfect timing,” Faulhaber said. “I was just frustrated and I didn’t feel like I was skiing to my full potential, which is OK because I think we all have those moments. At World Champs it was just so much fun to finally be back out there and skiing the way that I like to ski.”
Ferreira, meanwhile, was obviously seeking gold but had his own redemptive arc at the World Championships. After crashing out twice during X Games, Ferreira skipped Mammoth to recover but competed in the Dew Tour at Copper Mountain before the World Championships.
He, too, said he was able to put down the run he’d been working on all season.
“I feel absolutely phenomenal. I’m so thankful to have landed that run and to have actually executed it the way that I want to,” Ferreira said. “It obviously hurts not winning, but I have more things to add.”
The bronze still gives Ferreira a medal in the last of what he calls the four majors of skiing: X Games, Dew Tour, the Olympics and World Championships. He said he’s never done well at Worlds, his previous best being a fourth-place finish in 2021 in Aspen.
So the two Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard products got to share their first Worlds medals together — three in total, after Sweden’s Jon Sallinen took silver in the men’s competition, just edging Ferreira.
“For both of us to have a podium is awesome,” Faulhaber said. “It’s just great to have the valley represented.”
When the duo got together for the picture, after finding out how Faulhaber did, Ferreira said there wasn’t much more to be said.
“It was not a lot of talking, a lot of speechlessness, I would say,” Ferreira said. “We were both just so happy for each other. For her to be world champion is truly spectacular, so it was just relishing the moment.”